Fortunately, Rogue Galaxy holds up remarkably well. While its plot is one of the game’s most notable weak points, Rouge Galaxy’s “sci-fi meets seafaring” style and wonderful visuals end up carrying a lot of weight. Besides, few other RPGs offer quite so many worthwhile sidequests and activities as Rogue Galaxy does. Breeding creatures that then participate in a Chess-like strategy game, rebuilding a factory, hunting rare monsters…there are elements of this game that could easily be the centerpieces of other RPGs. It’s a shame this game fell so hard when it tried to fly so high.
12. Avernum: Escape From the Pit
You are a surface dweller who has just been banished by the cruel Emperor Hawthorne to the underground world of Avernum. Viewed as something between a prison and Hell itself, Avernum is where the emperor sends anyone who displeases or challenges him in any way. However, it turns out that sending your boldest enemies to one place isn’t always the best strategy. Avernum has become a nation unto itself. You will find horrors there, but you’ll also find an opportunity to make your own way. Of course, you could also help lead a rebellion against the same surface dwellers that sent you there.
A remake of 1995’s Exile: Escape from the Pit, Avernum: Escape From the Pit makes the most of a truly incredible premise. Though it outlines three possible paths to victory, the game affords you a remarkable amount of freedom when it comes to how you choose to walk those paths. It can all get pretty complicated, though it’s easier to lose yourself in the many mechanics when the game makes it so easy to lose yourself in the rich world and wonderful side stories. Anyone who finds themselves craving ’90s-era hardcore RPGs needs to know about this one.
11. The Last Story
After failing to start a JRPG revolution on Xbox with Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey (two games that could have also made this list), Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi went back to the drawing board. He decided to create a more ambitious JRPG experience that wasn’t quite as reliant on JRPG tropes. Dubbed The Last Story, Sakaguchi’s ambitious project was meant to be the Nintendo Wii’s definitive RPG experience. Much like Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, though, The Last Story didn’t quite make the impact that Sakaguchi was looking for. Ironically, one of the most common criticisms of the game was that it stuck too closely to the tropes that Sakaguchi intended to defy.
I’ve never fully understood those criticisms. Even the elements of The Last Story that feel familiar (such as its plot) often play with genre tropes or deploy them in fascinating ways. The gameplay, meanwhile, offers an engaging ARPG experience that best represents Sakaguchi’s desire to do something different. The surprising star of the show, though, is The Last Story’s incredible multiplayer modes, which offer both cooperative and competitive options. Though sadly held back by the Wii hardware in some notable ways, this game really is a brilliant blend of old and new.
10. Resonance Of Fate
Resonance of Fate’s complex combat system is one of the oddest you’ll find in an RPG. Though technically turn-based, Resonance of Fate’s combat sees you constantly change positions in order to gain a strategic advantage over enemies and pull off some wild team combos. It’s easy to imagine some of those who gave this game a shot back in the day bouncing off of that combat system simply because they couldn’t figure it out.